If you walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them;…
The connection between godly conduct and material good may not seem to us so close or so clearly discernible as that which is promised in these verses. Still, the heart of the promise remains, and instances have never been wanting to prove that "godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." The prophecy of Amos (Amos 9:13) - evidently founded on this passage of the Law - refers to gospel times, and reminds us that the declarations of the text are capable of a spiritual application which invests them with deeper meaning and grander results.
I. THE PROPRIETY OF OBEDIENCE.
1. Man is unfit to guide his own way. "It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps." He is a creature swayed by passion, short-sighted, fallible in judgment. Nor can the united wisdom of the multitude secure the framing of a code free from prejudice and error. We may consult the instructions of Scripture as our unfailing chart; we may listen to its precepts as the helmsman does to the commands of the captain, assured that from his loftier position he can better determine the course the vessel ought to take.
2. The Almighty possesses irresistible claims upon our obedience. He is our Creator and Governor, Father and Benefactor. He has bestowed upon us all our earthly and our spiritual benefits, and in particular spared not his only Son for our sakes. Supremely wise and holy, we cannot without manifest incongruity refuse to follow his counsel and rule of life. We are rebels if we neglect his injunctions. To pick and choose which we will conform to is to assume presumptuous functions.
3. The statutes are such as to commend themselves upon maturest reflection. Any precept plainly contrary to reason or morality no will has power to enforce. But the hexaplar verdict of the psalmist will be pronounced by all who study the laws of God, "The statutes of the Lord are right," etc. (Psalm 19:7-9). The teachings of Jesus Christ are a master-piece of skill, goodness, and purity. If universally adhered to, the world would become an Eden.
II. THE REWARD OF OBEDIENCE.
1. Blessings are promised to the obedient. Plenty. The ground shall be fertile, the fruit gathered in harvest shall more than suffice to carry the husbandman on to the next ingathering. The gospel does at any rate teach Christian stoicism, making a man contented with his lot, and he who has sufficient for his wants cannot complain. But in the spiritual region we may have a never-ceasing flow of gifts. For God is bountiful, and loves to grant richest graces unto his people. If only we are prepared to receive, the floodgates of his bounty will be opened. Peace. They shall dwell at home in safety, none causing terror. Strife amongst God's own people shall be unknown, the inestimable blessing of tranquility shall diffuse its sweetness over the land. "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee." Calm of conscience is the peculiar privilege of the believer in Christ. Bodily suffering cannot destroy this peace. The testimony of a well-known minister on his death-bed recently was, "Within I have deep peace, though around is constant searching pain." Victory, if foes attempt to molest. The Christian life is a warfare, and this is quite consistent with the enjoyment of peace. It is an external sphere of conflict, the enemy is determined and active, "but thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." The obedient soldiers are likeliest to come off conquerors when the general is skilled in strategy. And as Havelock's men, by their observance of moral rules, were ever prepared for duty, so are those who conform to the precepts of Christ certain of success in the struggle against sin. The association is much more intimate between obedience and spiritual triumph than that which is here promised in the Law.
2. These blessings are eminently desirable. It speaks a wise and gracious God to have made it so greatly men's interest to keep his laws. In any case we are bound to do what seems right, yet, if this conduct were not coincident with advantage, life would be a melancholy scene. Peace, plenty, and victory are just what the heart desiderates and men strive to attain. God will not offer what men contemn. lit is true that the degraded may at first fail to appreciate the joys of prosperity and tranquility, yet education is possible, and even brief reasoning must convince of the value of these inducements.
3. The list is comprehensive. There is material prosperity and moral good, and in the following verses religious satisfaction is promised - God dwelling in the midst of his people. Nothing that can add to man's real happiness is absent from the catalogue of pleasures to be participated in by the obedient.
III. GENERAL REFLECTIONS.
1. There is nothing wrong in allowing ourselves to be influenced by the promise of rewards. Man is compelled to anticipate; prudence is a virtue. All depends upon the character of the rewards. If they minister to base, ignoble lusts, then to be moved thereby is indicative of an evil state of mind. But if the blessings are legitimate and elevating, in accordance with principles implanted by our Maker, then the hope of obtaining them is a strong incitement to be cherished rather than checked. To impel men to a holy life by preaching the bliss and glory of heaven is surely allowable and to be commended.
2. The worth of these rewards will be enhanced by a consideration of the misery of their opposites - want, turmoil, and defeat. Such is the lot of those who follow their own devices, blindly hurrying to ruin. The prodigal imagined that he must see the world anti leave his father's home in order to be happy, but he soon discovered his dire mistake.
3. History proves God's faithfulness to his word. As long as the Israelites kept the Law, their condition was one of security, development, and honour. Every age has testified to the fulfillment of Divine declarations, forcing from the skeptical an acknowledgment of "a power that makes for righteousness." Seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, all other things have been added. On the other hand, it has been found hard to kick against the pricks. What Carlyle terms the "eternities" war against the evil-doer. As predictions have been fulfilled in the past, so we are confident that all the promises of God shall ultimately be realized in the experience of his faithful servants. - S.R.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them;